The annals of Hollywood history are filled with young, would be filmmakers who've overcome many obstacles and beaten the long odds to direct movies. From Steven Spielberg, who impressed executives with a short film and then went on to be a studio favorite, to independent filmmaker John Sayles, who continuously works outside the studio system, many impressive cinematic visionaries have made their mark in varying ways in the cinema. Whether newcomer and hip hop artist Percy Miller -- excuse me, Master P -- who seems to be taking the Sayles approach, becomes a household name or fades into obscurity remains to be seen, but our advice is that he not give up his day job just yet.
As writer, performer and self-financier of this, his second feature, Master P hopes to make a big splash with his big screen debut. While his first effort, "I'm Bout It" went straight to video and sold several hundred thousand copies, the only splash "I Got The Hookup" is going to make is the "kerplunk" noise as it quickly sinks to the bottom of the box office sea. Suffering from the delusion that "I'm Bout It" suddenly made him a worthy filmmaker, and apparently having no one around him brave enough to truthfully comment on this film's quality or potential, he's delivered "da bomb" (and that's in the old sense -- not the current slang for something that's great).
Evidently trying to play like a full length version of skits often found on the now defunct TV show, "In Living Color," this film has neither the wit, charm, nor the talented performers to pull that off. That Wayans brothers et al. show worked mainly because their spoofs on African American stereotypes were not only hilarious, but they were also short. That's a problem that the film "Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood" couldn't overcome. Yet that film, itself a mediocre production, looks like gold when compared with this travesty.
Master P's screenplay, about two guys who become the "hood's most wanted" after the frequencies of their stolen and now resold cell phones get crossed, might have seemed marginally funny on paper, but as executed on screen it's delivered D.O.A. Since the black "hood" stereotypes aren't pushed far enough, they play more like standard characteristics and end up being insulting instead of funny.
Of course, if you like stereotypical urban "comedy" -- a man who can't tell that a female prostitute is actually a man, the fact that everybody cusses up a storm, including old ladies -- as well as lame humor such as a porta-john being rolled down a hill or the fictitious cellular company being called Cellular Two (get it?), then maybe this film's right up your alley. Nearly everyone else, however, will find the plot flat and boring, the performances quite bad, and the overall effect extremely numbing to the brain.
I'll be the first to admit that I'm no actor, but at least I recognize that fact. Master P, suffering from a lack of lyrics to lip synch with, or some choreography to help him across the screen, comes off so wooden that he'd make a totem pole proud of its thespian abilities. The rest of the cast fares no better. A.J. Johnson ("The Players Club") is probably the brightest spot in this otherwise dim feature, but that's not saying much. Playing his character like a delinquent, but equally overeager version of the character Carlton Banks from the TV show, "The Fresh Prince of Bel- Air," Johnson provides a few meager laughs, but that's about it. And Tommy "Tiny" Lister ("Jackie Brown," "The Fifth Element") doesn't get to do much other than play his normal hulking and menacing character.
At least Master P can't be faulted for also trying to direct this feature, but it's doubtful it would have been any worse than what Michael Martin has delivered. Why music video directors think they can shift to feature films is beyond me, but this film is a testament as to why that practice should be stopped. Poorly constructed, unevenly paced, and featuring a wide array of bad acting, this wannabe urban caper spoof is about as bad they come, and should have gone straight to video instead of taking up space in the theaters. We give "I Got The Hook Up" a weak 1 out of 10.